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Virtually all digital images need some degree of sharpening to look their best, but it's not always easy to find the right way to go about it. This workshop from leading Adobe Photoshop expert Tim Grey dispels many myths and misunderstandings about sharpening, teaches you the underlying concepts involved in sharpening, shows you a wide variety of methods you can use to apply sharpening, and helps you determine which technique is best for a given image. In addition to Photoshop's native sharpening tools, learn how to make use of the options available in Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw, and third-party plugins like Nik Sharpener Pro and PhotoKit Sharpener. The workshop concludes with several projects designed to help reinforce your knowledge of sharpening. See how to apply sharpening and softening to different areas of an image, apply creative sharpening to specific areas, and sharpen a black-and-white image.
In some cases, you may want to apply a Sharpening Effect to specific areas of an image. Whether to enhance detail in that specific area, or to apply Creative Effect to a particular subject. In this lesson, we'll take a look at a method for applying Sharpening to a targetted area of a photo. In this particular case, I 'd like to enhance some of the cracks in the paint. I just really like this texture, especially in the blue paint on the edges of this bench. And so I would like to apply Additional Creative Sharpening to that particular area.
I'm going to start off by creating a selection. In this case I think I can get a good selection with the Quick Selection tool. So I'll go ahead and choose the Quick Selection tool from the toolbox. And then Click and Drag across the blue painted area, in order to create a selection there. I can then paint in the additional blue area here, in the distance if I like. And now I have what looks to be a good selection for purposes of applying a targeted Sharpening Effect, to just this area of the image. I'm going to apply the Sharpening as a SmartFilter, so with my background image layer active, I'll choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters from the menu. I'll go ahead and click OK to confirm that decision. And you can see that now my Background Image layer has become a smart object. So now when I apply a Filter, it will be done as a SmartFilter. This gives me maximum flexibility.
I'll go ahead and choose Filter > Sharpen and then Smart Sharpen and this filter is being applied as a SmartFilter. It will appear when I Click OK, below my layer zero now what had been my Background Image layer. So that I can always go back and refine the sharpening if I decide I'd like to later. Going to move this dialog out of the way just a little bit. And then I can work with my radius and amount sliders in order to fine tune the effect, I want a somewhat strong effect, but not too terribly strong.
I'll use a relatively high radius setting and a somewhat strong amount setting. You can see, I'm go ahead and click in a different portion of the image, you can see that I'm getting halos and, you know, a variety of problems. And I'm even sharpening some of the smooth texture areas of the image. But ultimately, this Sharpening Effect, will only apply to the area that I've selected previously. We'll see that in just a moment. I'll continue fine tuning the effect here, I'll reduce that radius a little bit, and reduce the amount just a hair. So you can see I've got relatively strong sharpening, in the blue paint areas of the image.
But in a moment we'll see that that's the only area being affected. I'll go ahead and click OK to close the Smart Sharpen dialog, and you can see I've applied my SmartFilter, the Smart Sharpen filter specifically. Because it's a SmartFilter at any time I could double-click on Smart Sharpen, to bring up the Smart Sharpen dialog and change my sharpening settings if desired. I'll go ahead and just Click OK in this his case, but I also have a layer mask, and you can see that this layer mask reflects my original selection. Areas that are white are areas that I had previously selected, and areas that are black are areas that were not selected. So this Sharpening filter, in this case Smart Sharpen, is only effecting the blue painted areas, the areas that I had previously selected. But of course I could change that at any time.
Black blocks and white reveals in the context of a layer mask. In this case the layer mask was based on a selection, but I could also use the brush tool. I'll go ahead and choose the Brush tool from the toolbox. I'll press the letter D to set my colors to their default values of black and white. I'll go ahead and Click on the Layer Mask associated with my Smart Filters. And now I can paint with black and white to block or reveal the adjustment, in this case the Sharpening Filter, anywhere in the image I'd like. So just by way of illustration, I'm going to exaggerate the Sharpening Effect so that things will be a bit more obvious. That'll certainly do it.
And I'll Click OK, and now if I use that Brush tool, again clicking on the thumbnail for my layer mask to make sure it's active. I can paint into the image to reveal that sharpening in additional areas, since I'm painting with white. Or, if I want to block the Sharpening Effect, I can press the letter X on the keyboard to switch my foreground and background colors. So that now black is my foreground color, and I can paint to block that Sharpening Effect. For example in this case, perhaps I've decided that I want the sharpening on the blue area, for this particular board, of the bench.
But I don't want to sharpen this blue portion back here, because it was rendered a little bit out of focus due to the narrow depth of field anyway. And so the sharpening really doesn't have a very good effect back there. So now you can take a look at the Layer Mask here. I've modified that mask, so that only the blue area in that foreground plank of wood, is actually getting the sharpening effect. And of course I can then go back and refine my sharpening, in this case it was a bit too strong. So I'll go adjust those settings, bring the radius down significantly and bring that amount down a bit as well.
And perhaps somewhere in that range then, we'll produce a nice result. As you've seen in this lesson, through the use of a Layer Mask, you can greatly expand your flexibility when it comes to sharpening. It enables you to apply Sharpening to specific areas of the image, within incredible flexibilty.
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